Imagine if we could capture emissions from steel and power plants and turn them into sources for clean fuel rather than let them pollute our air. While it may sound like a sci-fi movie scene, the technology to achieve this vision is already here. And at the helm of this endeavor is Dr. Jennifer Rosa Holmgren.
Dr. Jennifer Rosa Holmgren is a driving force behind revolutionizing how we deal with waste carbon emissions. Instilled with a belief that we have a moral obligation to the next generation to fight climate change, Jennifer serves as CEO of LanzaTech, the company behind this innovative technology.
LanzaTech transforms belching smoke stack gases into clean fuels and useful chemicals. In 2013, under Jennifer’s leadership, LanzaTech was cited by Forbes as “one of America’s most promising companies”, was ranked second in Biofuels Digest’s annual list of the “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy”, fourth among the “30 Hottest Companies in Biobased Chemicals” and one of the top 100 clean technology companies in the world by CleanTech. Both a carbon recycling company and a biofuel company, LanzaTech uses microbes to convert waste carbon monoxide and dioxide gases at steel mills into clean fuel and chemicals for nylon, rubber or other plastics. Baosteel, one of China’s largest steel manufacturers, financed LanzaTech’s first facility in China and plans are underway for further commercial facilities to be completed in 2015.
Dr. Holmgren has backed up her environmental commitment with concrete action. In 2013, LanzaTech’s Beijing facility with Shougang, another steel major in China, received a world first sustainability certificationfrom the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The RSB verifies sustainability across a broad range of factors such as climate, water, air, and biodiversity. It also verifies that fuel producers protect human and labor rights, land tenure rights, rural development and local food security. RSB certification is voluntary, further demonstrating Dr. Holmgren’s commitment to the environment and LanzaTech’s commitment to corporate responsibility. LanzaTech has also partnered with Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic to help them achieve their goal of lowering their carbon footprint, using sustainably sourced alternative jet fuel.
Dr. Holmgren was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and migrated with her family to California at the age of 9. From an early age her interest in chemistry, encouraged by an enthusiastic high school chemistry teacher, was balanced against a fascination with cutting edge technological achievements, such as the NASA space program.
Jennifer received her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana, followed by an MBA from the University of Chicago. She maintains a steadfast belief in combining scientific inquiry with business acumen to create game-changing results for the democratization of energy. She bolstered these beliefs in her time serving as VP and General Manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at Honeywell Company. There she championed the company’s involvement with biofuels, before subsequently taking the CEO reins at LanzaTech where the opportunity to develop innovative approaches to treating industrial waste gases was a natural use of her incredible talents.
“I applaud the work of Voces Verdes for both giving voice to our Hispanic sense of moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to fight climate change, and for successfully creating a national coalition of leaders who share a commitment to taking action now. Not only must we stop polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink, we need to develop a robust sustainable energy sector that takes advantage of all of the scientific and technological discoveries at our disposal so that we can eliminate the world’s smokestacks.”